CAMPAIGNERS against controversial plans to re-route a major road through Kings Barton have received a 'game changing' letter from the Secretary of State.

The plan, agreed more than 10 years ago, would see Andover Road closed to through traffic and diverted onto Winchester Avenue, the main road through the new estate. 

It would be triggered when the 2,000-home estate reaches 650 homes. About 500 have been built.

Mike Slinn, chairman of Kings Barton Residents' Association, wrote to the Secretary of State in September to find out if the decision could be reversed. The response revealed that the developer, Cala Homes, could submit a new planning application without the Secretary of State's permission. 

A letter from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “The planning permission in question was granted by then Secretary of State, Lord Pickles, more than 10 years ago.

READ MORE: Residents write to Secretary of State over controversial plans to divert Andover Road

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester Avenue

“While this issue is clearly causing concern to local residents, and while it was originally a ministerial decision, once made, enforcement and implementation of planning permission lies with the Local Planning Authority (Winchester City Council). 

“Furthermore, responsibility for road safety and highway closure lies with the Local Highway Authority.

“It is open to the developer and the Highway Authority to seek to vary the terms of the permission in respect of the diversion of Andover Road by making an application to Winchester City Council. 

“It is for them to decide whether to make that application, and the determination of any such application would be a matter for Winchester City Council.”

Mr Slinn said: “The Secretary of State's recent letter acknowledges that the issue of closing Andover Road to traffic is causing concern to local residents and advises that responsibility now lies with the developer and local highway and planning authorities. 

“The Secretary of State advises that it is open to the developer, Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council to 'vary the terms of the permission in respect of the diversion of Andover Road'. 

“This letter makes it clear that the Secretary of State's permission is not needed for local authorities and CALA, the developer, to decide to keep Andover Road open to traffic. 

“The Secretary of State's letter is a game-changer as previously the local authorities and CALA had maintained that they would need the Secretary of State's approval to keep Andover Road open.”

City council leader Martin Tod last September criticised the idea of keeping Andover Road open as well as Winchester Avenue: "Having two main roads running in parallel would be an act of insanity in terms of urban planning and traffic planning. You can't have both, that makes no sense at all."

A Cala Thames spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering our ambitious plans for Kings Barton, which have previously been approved following extensive consultation with the council and the community.

“Our plans ensure we can create a vibrant new neighbourhood to help meet housing needs and support local infrastructure in Winchester. We have no plans to revisit the masterplan for this development.”

Gary Westbrook, director of Hampshire 2050 and assistant chief executive of Hampshire County Council, said: "The letter states it would need the Developer to agree to submit a new planning application. Our understanding is that the Developer is not willing to do this."